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How long to smoke a 16 pound brisket at 225? (Explained)

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It might be difficult to fully smoke hefty portions of meat, such as brisket or pork shoulder. Technique and patience are required, especially because some briskets can take nearly 24 hours to fully smoke!

The problematic issue is that there is no specific “duration” for cooking a brisket. Brisket requires plenty of time to break down and dissolve all of its fatty and connective tissues, which are then redistributed back into the meat.

Brisket isn’t done until its internal temperature is between 200 and 205 degrees(F), no matter how long it takes.

The speed of the process is affected by a variety of factors, including the fat percentage of the brisket, the weather outside of the smoker, the amount of basting done to the brisket, and the ambient smoke heat your smoker is set to.

How Much Time Does Brisket Need to Fully Smoke?

Despite the fact that there is no precise time for cooking brisket, it generally takes between 1½ and 2 hours per pound of beef. This implies that it can take up to 10 hours to completely smoke a 5-pound brisket.

Temperatures between 225 and 250 degrees(F) are recommended for smoking brisket. In order to properly break down the fatty tissues and connective fibers without overcooking or drying out the meat, it should be cooked at this temperature.

While not advised, raising the ambient smoke temperature to 275–300 degrees(F) would significantly shorten the period that brisket requires on the smoker. As a result, the cooking time per pound of meat is reduced to around 30-45 minutes.

As a result, the same 5-pound brisket that previously required 10 hours to smoke will now only require 3 to 5 hours to complete.  But the chance of the meat being tougher and drier rises with increased cooking temperatures.

Beware of The Stall

A stall, or temperature plateau, occurs when smoking thick cuts of meat with higher quantities of fatty and connective fibers.

We smoke brisket at low temperatures for lengthy periods of time to fully break down these fibers, allowing them to emulsify into the meat. 

It’s the magic element that makes perfectly cooked pulled pork melt in your mouth with lusciously rich flavors and soft texture. 

Excess liquids, however, begin to rise to the top of the brisket at a certain point throughout the cooking process, where they cool and evaporate. This causes the brisket to chill quicker than the smoker can cook it due to the evaporating juices.

Hence, this phenomenon is known as “evaporative cooling.”

When Does Stalling Occur?

It normally happens when the internal temperature is between 150 and 175 degrees(F) and will last until all of the lingering juices have evaporated. Only then will the brisket’s temperature continue to climb.

A variety of factors influence the length of a temperature stall, including the quantity of fat on the brisket, the amount of excess moisture within the smoker, and the smoker’s overall ambient smoke heat.

A stall might last anywhere from 2 to 7 hours, so be ready to wrap the brisket.

Does Wrapping Brisket Help It Cook Faster?

Yes, the entire purpose of wrapping a brisket is to tightly seal it, allowing it to break from a temperature stall much faster.

The brisket is firmly enclosed with its fluids when wrapped, keeping them warm and considerably reducing the effects of evaporative cooling.

Briskets are normally wrapped when internal temperatures reach 150 degrees(F), however this can be done at any time between 150 and 165 degrees(F).

After it’s been wrapped, don’t uncover it until it’s completely smoked.

Brisket is commonly wrapped in two different materials: aluminium foil and butcher paper.

For newbies, foil is a wonderful place to start when wrapping brisket. It has a tight seal and can withstand high temperatures.

It works well at confining all of the rendered liquids and can enable a brisket depart the stall much faster than most other wraps.

However, foil has a disadvantage. It has the potential to be overly effective. Because it securely seals in the juices, it can cause the bark and skin to become mushy and ruin the texture.

Butcher paper is preferred by most seasoned smokers. It gives you greater control over how the brisket smokes.

Despite the fact that butcher paper does not seal as well as foil, you still get a crisper texture in the bark and help the pork skin crackle without becoming soggy. 

Additionally, the paper absorbs some of the oil and grease from the meat, generating a layer of moisture that conducts heat and can actually speed up the cooking process. This is the only exception to moisture in the smoker helping meat cook slightly quicker

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there will never be a universal time for fully cooking briskets. There are far too many variables at work that can either lengthen or shorten this period.

Fortunately, we can have a better idea of how quickly it will cook because to the pros who have shared their knowledge with the community.

Always utilize dependable equipment, such as a meat thermometer. Smoking your brisket will be a challenging chore if you can’t collect correct temperature readings.